Sunday, November 8, 2015

We're *Sortie* 5000

I thought about blogging again from our trip, but I was too tired.  We kept a pretty fast pace and our sore legs were pretty pitiful after Paris.  After our day at the Louvre, we hit the Eiffel Tower and from there, braved the Metro system so we could explore more neighborhoods without falling flat out dead.  So many lovely memories...We tried a cafe on the Rue du Cler (thanks, Kate... the food and service were the best we had!) and it was a Saturday, market day.  I popped into a specialty food store and loaded up on candies as I never knew when I'd find good treats and gifts next.  We took the Metro to the Rue du Francs Bourgeois, where I'd read had fun shopping.  We found a perfume shop and I got gifts and we later stopped at a pastry shop for a chocolate mousse type cake and homemade marshmallows.  The city is by far the most cosmopolitan I've visited. New York City is amazing, but it can't hold a candle to the city's ancient history and sheer vastness.  We loved it.  We loved the cafes and the "Parisian fast food" that was like Panera, but way better.  We could eat a fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwich with dessert and drink for about 8 euro.  

Our last full day was spent travelling to Versailles.  The town is beautiful, with tree lined streets leading to the palace.  We had a loooong wait to enter, and by our last day, we'd hit antiquity overload.  We saw a cool exhibition commemorating the 300th anniversary of King Louis XIV's death.  It tied into the macabre theme of Halloween with a recreation of the state funeral.  We also toured the royal apartments, but again, it was old painting/old painting/sculpture of a famous guy/fancy bedroom/old painting/there's a nice chair/ooh, the hall of mirrors is nice/done.  As a sidenote, sortie is the French word for "exit" and it was everywhere on the signage.   We had big fun "sortie-ing" all over Paris.  Our last day was a Sunday, so most shops were closed in the city that morning, but by afternoon, many had opened.  We grabbed one more round of souvenirs and headed home to pack up for Amsterdam.

Our flight was supposed to be at 8 a.m., but was cancelled overnight due to fog and WE DIDN'T CHECK OUR EMAIL BEFORE LEAVING THE HOTEL.  I'm not sure why the airline didn't automatically re-book, but we had a series of hassles getting out of Paris.  We had a full day in the airport due to fog which really thrilled Alex.  He's a super patient guy when it comes to inefficiency. We finally made it out and met Alex's good friend Maurice that evening, who took us to his home where he reheated the traditional Dutch meal he had prepared and we enjoyed a nice visit. 

The next two days included a tour of the city, a canal ride, a visit to the Anne Frank house, the Rijks museum, and a bike ride to the nearby village with working windmills.  Maurice and his wife, Laura, welcomed us into their home like family.  They have three little girls who absolutely charmed us, and I will consider them my new Dutch nieces.  We met their mother and father, close friends, sister and brother and niece!  It was very special to me, especially because Maurice and his father expressed their appreciation for the welcome Maurice received as an exchange student at Alex's high school.  I've heard it said that women measure happiness based on the quality of their relationships and that men "only" need a wife and a best friend to have their relational basics met.  So to see these old friends pick up where they left off, from different countries with different political and philosophical viewpoints, but with so much mutual respect and shared experiences as husbands and fathers... well.  It made my heart very happy.

We really got to experience more than a tourist's perspective of life in the Netherlands.  We could be at the train station in 5 minutes, and the family could bike to most of their errands.  We biked to the windmills and I had to ride the 10 year old's bike (hanging head).  I reminded everyone that I had not biked with any regularity in about 15 years, so let's all be cool.  Note to self:  Let's work on personal fitness for our mind-body-spirit well-being and not worry so much about scales and labels.  

And the FOOD.  If it's possible, we ate even better in Amsterdam!  Maurice and Laura introduced us to what they just call "gourmet," a meal resembling hibachi.   They put a big electric griddle on the table, and set out plates of steak, ground beef, pork, breaded chicken, bacon, and cut up vegetables.  We dropped herbed butter on the griddle and cooked up batches of food as we talked and snacked on the bread and spreads.  If that wasn't enough, Laura kept us fed and watered while watching soccer, pulling out yummy snacks and even introducing us to Bugles (the snack) filled with soft cheese.  GENIUS.  

We flew home Thursday, fat and happy and tired, watching movie after movie, having food and drink offered at regular intervals to keep us from mutiny in the skies, I suppose.  For our 10 hour flight, we were given a full hot lunch, including dessert, a snack box with olives, cheeses and mousse and then another hot sandwich and ice cream.  It was kinda over-the-top, but with nothing to do but sit and stare, we lived up to our American birthright and ATE.

We took a lot away from the trip personally.  I realized how very isolated America can feel from the rest of the world, all wrapped up in my comfortable suburban life.  World events and political unrest seemed more pressing to the people we visited.  Alex and I both had lots of time to be silly and talk about more than the day's bullet points.  We planned and dreamed.  We really like each other.  We want to broaden our children's perspectives and show them a larger world, too.

In a nutshell?   Trip of a lifetime, definitely.  

Flat out exhausted at the Arc d' Triomphe

        One of the many canal bridges

Alex and Maurice

1 comment:

David and Kate said...

So fun! Glad you had a great time.